Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Goodbye Bolivia

On Friday night we were alone in Copacabana. We drowned our sorrows (even though it, as usual, was really nice to be back to the basic) in trout. Beautiful, lovely Trout. Copacabana was filled with rich Bolivians and Peruvians, all coming to party for the Labor Day weekend. At the beach they were renting out dirt bikes to rip up and down a dirt road and a bit into the mountians. I won't lie, we were very much tempted by these machines, but resisted, as there were a hundred drunken dudes already sharing the road with speeding buses and trucks. Also the bike we were offered was a little sketchy and missing a passenger foot peg. After weighing the risk of smearing our brains all over the road we decided to withhold until Canada, where Orin has his lovely dirt bike waiting for him.

That evening there was a big parade, which consisted of a group of women, followed by a group of men, followed by a marching band, all dancing slowly down the street. Two steps forwards, one step back. It was a long parade... haha. There were a lot of old folks dancing in this parade, many looking as though they weren't going to make it. One elderly guy, covered in sweat, busted out beside us and left. I have a feeling that this happens all through out the parade. The marching band was hilarious, as it consisted of a grand brass section who were having a hard time sharing their breath between their lungs and their instruments. Dancing in a parade at such high altitude is hard enough, and everyone had damp brows, but dancing in a parade at high altitude while trying to play a brass instrument is just crazy. I bet someone passes out every year. There were three tuba players at the end, one just barely farting out some off kilter notes, and after the crowd filed in behind and followed. I would not be too happy having to stand behind that tuba player the whole time.

The next day we ate our last trout of Copacabana, and jumped on a bus to La Paz. We got in just before 5 to find the rest of the crew just waking up. They went a little overboard the night before. Wow. For dinner we went to an excellent middle eastern restaraunt, and smoked an apple hooka for desert. It was very, very tasty.

On Sunday we went to the infamous 'Cholita Wrestling', which turned out to be nothing like I expected. It advertized two Cholita, which are the typical bolivian women, dressed up in their big skirts and fancy clothes, wrestling. It is supposed to be something that you shouldn't miss, so we decided to go. It turned out to be quite expensive, and just after we paid for our tickets we noticed that the doormen were wearing medical masks. What is that for, we asked? First they told us that there are sick people in there, and they don't want it to spread, and then they told us that it was a saftety precaution for Swine Flu. Wow. Everyone looked worried about this, but Orin and I assured them that this was just hysteria, and to just relax.

We entered to find that the locals and the gringos were segregated, the locals all against the walls, with the gringos enjoying the prime seating. Things just kept getting weirder. None of the locals had masks on, while most of the tourists were wearing theirs. It was hilarious, so fucking absured and ridiculous. The best part was that a snack was included in this ticket, so most of the gringos had their mask around their neck and were stuffing their face with popcorn. Popcorn that touched so many hands before it made it to their hands, which had touched hostel doors, taxi's, the entry doors and many other things. Hmmm.... As soon as the show started I got an excellent view of all the gringos with their cameras out and masks on. It was glorious.

The first 3 or 4 rounds were extremely lame. It was just dudes dressed up as characters, such as ninja turtle vs escaped inmate, who were really bad at wrestling. Reaction time, people, you need to have a good reaction time to wrestle for money. Well.... maybe not, as they would get hit, and then fly backwards a full second after and fling themselves out of the ring. They got better each time, but still.... why even show the terrible ones, it completely killed all hope and just invited you to be critical. It all followed the same equation: a bit of even fighting, one person begins to brutally win, and after you think the other can never recover, suprise suprise, they did. It's a miracle!!! Finally a Cholita showed herself, and put on a pretty good show. She came out to great cheers, then took a couple minutes to take off her scarf, rings, earrings, necklace, bracelets etc. Why they wear them out there I don't know.... It was pretty awesome to see this little lady throwing down these crazy wrestling moves. She fought a skinny guy, and they were flipping eachother over and getting onto the ropes and jumping on eachother and everything. She was quite good, and I enjoyed that one. After her came some random American dude, who was pretty amusing, and then the final battle. This consisted of two Cholitas vs two dudes. Dissapointing, because honestly I wanted to see come Cholita on Cholita action. Way better, way more fair, and way more intense. This round was really, really weird, to top off the night of strangeness. They began the fight with ripping most of the Cholitas clothes off. Okay.... Then they changed, and came back, and just got the fuck beat out of them. Really. It was really weird, and you didn't really know what to do. You knew it was fake, but it still made you uncomfortable, as they were acting like they were really in pain. They just got owned, the guys even busted out wooden boxes and broke them over their heads etc. One woman started to bleed, and I got worried, until the other woman started to bleed from her head, and I realized it was fake blood (I am pretty sure). But still... it was really strange sitting there and just seeing the poor cholitas just get demolished. They fought tag team for a while, but all that encompassed was the two guys beating the crap out of one cholita while the other looked on from outside the ring, as the ref wouldn't let her in. What the fuck? Finally, they had their little come back and beat the guys up for a bit, but it was nothing like what the guys did to them. Somehow in the end the women won, as expected, but really, they got nailed to the wall. It was just downright weird.
We wandered out of there all a little confused. In the end it was all fake, and a pretty wild experience, but I would never pay 50 bol, 10 can, to see that again. I am positive that Orin's experience was very different than mine..

That evening we got the biggest pizza I have ever seen, and went to see the movie Wolverine. First movie theater the whole time down here, so even though the movie was pretty cheesy, it was lots of fun to watch all this action and mutant shit go down.

The next day was pretty chill until night came. Brenden, Simon and I went to the Prado to pick up another giant pizza, and also so Simon could get his laundry and say goodbye to the family he had been staying with. We ended up wandering into one of the largest protests I've ever seen. It was against Evo Morales, the Bolivian president, who I quite like. He decided to not allow other countries to give Bolivia free clothes in order to help the Bolivian economy, by forcing people to buy only bolivian made clothes. This is an interesting idea, and I can see how this would be beneficial to Bolivia, but there are many Bolivian who cannot afford this much more expensive clothing. The clothes that are sent down are meant to be free, but they are sold quite cheaply at a profit to god knows who...but still, sold quite cheap. It was not a violent riot, but it was still pretty crazy,with big groups of police ripping it through the crowd on their motorbikes.
A couple hours later we returned with the pizza to find our that our darling friends had started without us, and gone hard, already a bottle and a half deep in to the rum. We had to work hard to catch up, but we did. Later that night we went out with a group consisting of Matt, Kate, Simon, Brenden, a nice Argentinian guy we befriended, Orin and I. Unfortuately the other Matt had to go home to Uruguay to shut down his fathers house and take his flight back to the states.
We ended up going out to a tourist bar, for the first time this trip. I did not expect it at all, and when I walked into the room I was shocked, and stood there stuttering for a stupid ammount of time. It was bar packed with a bunch of white people drinking and speaking English. It was absolutely mental, and my intoxicated mind had a hard time wrapping itself around the situation. It was so absured, just hanging out with all these white people in La Paz.... there was absolutly no locals here. The funniest part was that I spent the whole time in the bar talking Spanish with the Argentinian, who didn't speak a word of English. It was my personal rebellion to this twisted situation. The bar closed down and we went to the next, which was the same. Somehow I ended up back in my room at 6 am, taking my malaria pill with wine as that was the only liquid we had. Gross. Really, really gross.

The next morning we were leaving to Tihuanaku, the big Bolivian ruins, and then to Puno in Peru. I really, really regreted the freeness that the liquour flowed the night before, and wondered about my non existant logic at maybe, you know, 3 in the morning, a much more sane hour to go to bed before a big border crossing day. Tihuanku was cool, but extremely overpriced. It was amazing to see how smooth and square they get the rocks, but have heard from a couple travellers that have seen both, that Machu Pichu will blow that away. We caught a bus from there to the border, where we got by pretty easy after answering many question with obvious answers... such as did you do cocaine or marijuana in Bolivia? Oh yes officer, and I have about 3 balloons of it in my stomach right now....

The bus ride to Peru was strange because some woman had all the tourists sitting on blankets, and made me hold this package. Sketchy. I was a little worried that it was filled with cocaine, and was much more worried when a bunch of officers came onto the bus and vigorously checked people. Funny thing was that they only checked the locals, while the tourists sat on the smuggled blankets, holding bags of smuggled goods. I found out afterwards that they were smuggling the cheap Bolivian blankets and clothes to sell in Peru. That evening we ate chicken and slept in a terrible hostal, where the doorguy blared the TV so loud that he must have been part deaf.

Today we found ourselves a really nice hostal, and have a room reserved for Rylie and Jordan TOMORROW NIGHT!!!! I can't believe that we are going to meet them at the airport tomorrow morning. I want to go to bed now just so that they will be here... a travellers christmas. Haha. It is very strange that this portion of our trip is coming to an end, and from now on we will be travelling with others. Exciting and sad at the same time, as I have had such an amazing time just kicking it with Orin. We get along absurdly well, and have an awesome time even doing the lamest things together. From now on things are going to go even faster than before, which is terrifying. In the end I am very excited to come back to Vancouver, but the end of a good travel is bitter sweet, but not to worry, as there have been many conversations of 'next time' already. This time with Clare, for sure!! Not to mention that we have a whole beautiful province to explore this summer, and a whole beautiful country to explore for the rest of our lives. Enough of my lamenting, I hope that BC is heating up nicely for our return, and that everyone is enjoying a lovely spring.

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